“Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” – The Carpenters
I’m not going to mince words — the weather is shit right now. It’s grey and cold and the coffee I drank two hours ago has been unable to penetrate its dreary, low energy malaise. I feel like a zombie and I look like one, too. I often joke that I’ve spent so much time in the company of plants that I’ve become one. But the plants are bright, colourful, and standing up straight today — we are not in sync at all.
If you can stand to be outdoors, the overcast haze makes the perfect conditions for photographing the garden. I dragged my sorry ass out there this afternoon to capture some recent changes to the garden and photograph these books. The lemon balm is reaching a nice size now and I was reminded on sighting it that a fistful lazily torn and brewed in a cup of hot water is a good rainy day remedy. I added slices of fresh ginger and ginger honey purchased at the market to mine.
The cup is empty now and while I can’t say that I am feeling any more chipper than before, I am at least cheered by the prospect of more drinks made with fresh (rather than dried) herbs from the garden in the coming months.
‘Yalta’ is another of the crocus varieties that I planted last fall. It has alternating purple and soft, silvery lavender petals with a delicate and long throat. Apparently it is a C. tommasinianus hybrid, which is another species that I prefer, particularly ‘Ruby Giant’.
Last month I showed you a picture of this particular variety, Crocus biflorus ssp. isauricus ‘Spring Beauty’ (aka Crocus sieberi), growing in a pot in my friend Barry’s greenhouse.
Now here are a few photographs of the same variety as they came up in my own garden last week. As I said in the last post, it is the dark striping of the outer petals that really make this variety. The flowers are interesting to look at whether fully open or tightly closed. This variety is also quite petite, much smaller and more delicate than the typical grocery store bulb. These are the crocuses I like best. My only regret is that I didn’t buy more.
I’ve got another diminutive, multi-toned variety to show you next.
With just a week left in the month, March has decided to come back. Temperatures in Toronto dipped just below freezing last night, and it’s expected to go even lower tonight. Are those of you in similar regions worried? I’m not. At least not about my own garden. I’m worried about fruit orchards with trees that have already set flowers and the magnolias that are just on the cusp of opening. And I feel terrible for farmers who have no means to protect acres and acres of early crops.
However, in my own garden I’m not worried about the seeds I have recently sown. Most of them are hardy greens that can take a dip below freezing and in the case of those that aren’t, well, a little loss is not the end of the world. I never sow an entire packet of seed in one go, and I never sow more than I can afford to lose. I am slightly worried about the perennials that have come out of dormancy too early. Tender new growth may suffer the one-two punch of freezing nights and driving, cold winds. Even my urban backyard, which is protected by tall buildings and heat-absorbing materials is suffering from a tunnel effect as the wind drives through the narrow passages between walls.
Fortunately, the soil is still warm and the days are sunny. This seems to be helping to keep the plants warmer at night. I didn’t do anything to protect my plants last night — I even left out the echeverias that had spent the winter indoors — everything was fine this morning. Read more…
Imagine my surprise when I pulled back the row cover at the back of my garden and found this pot full of living ‘Four Seasons’ lettuce that I had planted last fall and forgot about. It survived the winter!
I love these little mistakes that result in new discoveries. Yes, our winter was much milder than usual, but in the years that I’ve been growing the ‘Four Seasons’ variety, I had not expected it to live up to its name in my climate.
The container (an old bread box I inherited from Davin’s grandmother, with holes punched into the bottom) was twice sown last fall due to a squirrel invasion that I did not protect against. I have since transplanted several of these seedlings into raised beds and pots around the garden.
With the garden soil now workable, and unseasonably warm, I have also direct sown several lettuce varieties and greens around the garden. This has me thinking about all of the future salads we will be enjoying soon, making me realize that it was high time to pull together some of the lettuce and greens articles I have written here over the years to get you started on growing your future salads, too.
P.S. This week’s article on HGTV is up. It’s about reusing potting soil. I often use my old potting soil to grow salad greens. However, I am careful to add more nitrogen back into the depleted mix as leafy veggies need nitrogen to thrive.
P.S.S. I have added more ‘Hahms Gelbe Topftomate’ seeds to etsy.